Norm Nudging

Megan Hotson


When it comes to encouraging a specific behaviour from consumers, brands have not just the responsibility, but the power to guide their thinking (and wallets).

Norm nudging offers brands an opportunity to foster a long-lasting relationship with customers and keep them coming back.

If brands can subtly nudge their consumers in the right direction, normalising new behaviours with the way their products or services are sold, they can facilitate their customers in combating environmentally exhausting behaviours.

‘Norm-nudging’ is more subtle than a simple call to action, allowing customers to make the more positive choice with a feeling of greater agency.

H&M: environmental impact

Last month, you may have noticed H&M add a new feature to their website product descriptions. In collaboration with the Higg index, H&M added ratings to each of their items sold online to measure the sustainability of product material.

Behavioural interventions can alter how people behave by capitalising on predictable thought patterns as well as decision mechanisms. 

H&M here have intervened in the decision-making process through making the environmental impact of their products visible. This not only shows them as a brand taking responsibility for the planet but demonstrating transparency by being able to show where and how their clothing and accessories are sourced.

Consumers can make a more conscious choice about the items they buy and can associate a new profile of trust with this brand as a sustainable pioneering brand. 


Method: brand aestheticism

Method is a cleaning brand that does not scream and shout about their commitment to sustainability. Instead, they make their eco-credentials a secondary concern after their brand identity.

Often, consumers shy away from brands that shape their identity based off eco-guided ambitions, or imperatives. This can be because these products, which look or feel ‘ultra-eco’ are often not considered to be a part of people’s everyday lifestyle.

Method have instead created an aesthetically strong brand with great social currency- that also happens to be great for the planet. What this brand have done is normalised more considered consumption by leaning into what customers want.

Some brands can get the eco-narrative wrong when they fail to guide or present the environmental crisis as one that is shared, and solvable with proactive action. By creating appeal to their product visually, method are encouraging people to invest in their cleaning products that have a more positive impact on the planet.

What does the future of norm nudging look like?

As with most things, it looks virtual.

Brands are already tapping into new and innovative technology to try and nudge their customers into more considered consumption patterns.  In March, creative and technologist- Lady Phoenix, created a revolutionary framework for veneration through augmented reality (AR).

The new VR content marked the beginning of an innovative approach to storytelling in a virtual world that encouraged its viewers to empathise and heal in a new and profound way.

How could your brand create a virtual profile, or experience to immerse customers in a new wave of understanding?

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